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European benchmarks saw a resoundingly positive session Wednesday as investors responded to a flurry of corporate earnings reports with a strong bid for the region's stocks. 

London's FTSE 100 was 0.36% higher at 7,462 just an hour out from the close while the mid-market FTSE 250 benchmark was up 0.63% to 19,764. This is while Paris' bluechip CAC 40 index added 0.59% to be quoted at 5,191 and the DAX gained 0.41% to 12,314 in Frankfurt. Over in Southern Europe, the IBEX in Madrid and the FTSE MIB in Milan both also saw modest gains for the session. 

Stocks focused on the domestic economy were the big winners in London after second-quarter GDP data for the U.K. emerged without calamity. Growth came in at 0.3%, its slowest pace since the first quarter of 2015, although in-line with the economist consensus. 

House builder Barratt Developments (BTDPF) was the top riser on the FTSE with a gain of 1.8% off the back of the release while drugmaker stock Shire (SHP) rose by a similar amount on weak speculation that it could be in the crosshairs of a suitor.

Over in Paris, Peugeot (PEUGF) topped the CAC 40 with a gain of more than 3% after the carmaker reported a record set of results, with more favorable pricing driving margins higher during the first half and the board forecasting a solid year. 

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In Frankfurt, Commerzbank (CRZBY) stock led the European banking sector higher after it was revealed that U.S. private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management has taken a stake in the German lender.

The bank published a filing from Cerberus showing the buyout shop having bought a stake that gives it control over 4.90% of the voting rights attached to its shares. Shares of Commerzbank rose more than 2.5% in response to the news.

The move confirms a Bloomberg report from earlier in July that Cerberus was considering a minority investment in the bank's shares in order to gain exposure to the recovery in European banking.

On the downside, gains for the DAX were one-half hampered by a 3% fall in the value of Merck KGAA (MKGAY) shares after analysts at Deutsche Bank cut their rating for the stock and predicted that the drugmaker will deliver a poor set of quarterly numbers on Aug. 3. 

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